A BRIDGE that was closed for health and safety reasons is to be replaced with a new £2.5 million crossing.

Durham County Council originally closed Witton Park Bridge, near Bishop Auckland, last summer for repairs and maintenance work.

Last July the authority was forced to extend the temporary closure after engineers discovered serious structural defects that threatened the safety of the public.

Plans submitted to save Witton Park Bridge

Since then, engineers have been exploring a number of options for the crossing and have received confirmation that £2.5m is available from the council’s approved budgets for 2020/21 to create a new bridge.

A detailed design and construction programme for the works will now be developed, with a view to demolishing the existing bridge next spring.

Cart driver highlights concerns over Witton Park Bridge

Work on the new crossing will begin soon after, subject to Environment Agency approvals, and is expected to take six months.

Councillor Brian Stephens said: “I am delighted our engineers have been able to identify a solution.”

Brian Buckley, the council’s strategic highways manager, added: “The works will see us dismantle the existing bridge and replace it with a new bridge deck, while retaining the existing piers and supports. This means the new bridge will follow the existing path across the river.

“It will take time to complete this project and the bridge will remain closed until the new crossing is finished. However, public safety must come first, and we would like to thank residents for their continued patience and understanding.”